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Posted by on Oct 3, 2008 in Politics | 5 comments

The Vice Presidential Debate Rewind

At the close of last night’s debate I posted my take that a largely lackluster debate went in Sarah Palin’s favor. This drew some criticism from readers and, at least according to the polls, I was in the minority by holding that opinion. I would like to visit the views of some friends on the subject, having had nearly 24 hours to digest it all, but also offer some observations about how I reached my conclusions.

Did Sarah Palin’s performance last night suddenly change my views and bring on an epiphany where I find her the best choice as Vice President and, possibly, president? No, it did not. I still find the Palin choice to be a political albatross for McCain, and the Alaskan Governor to be a troubling presence, rife with questions about her honesty and the somewhat-incompetent, partisan and even sinister nature of her actions as both Wasilla Mayor and state Governor. However, that wasn’t the question I sought to address last night. I viewed a debate and endeavored to provide my take on who performed better. Had the event gone only thirty minutes, Palin would have lost. She was rushed in her speech and clearly nervous, failing to project much in the way of confidence. In the last hour, however, I think she skillfully avoided many of the actual questions, falling back on well-rehearsed talking points. There was no Lloyd Bentsen moment for either side, and I doubt the debate will be memorable four years from now, but she handled herself well.

I saw a variety of opinions coming out today. While I felt Palin did a tad better than Biden, she hardly hit a home run as my friend Ed Morrissey read it. My old partner in crime Ron Beasley didn’t find the “deer in the headlights” moment that many of us expected, but still felt that Biden won it easily. James Joyner still isn’t sold on her bona fides, but thinks that a lot of her “gaffes” are being overblown around the blogosphere. Rick Moran says that Palin lost the debate “on points” but he may have to make sure that the Missus isn’t setting his CDs on fire out on the front lawn after this bit of fanfare. (Heavy on the “fan.”)

…she took over the stage and dominated it with her personality. I believe they were talking about education and as the words poured out in that Midwestern twang, her eyes twinkled and that 100,000 watt smile lit up the hall, she turned on the charm and sincerity, and the stage suddenly shrank while Biden appeared a mere appendage to the broadcast.

Over at The Reaction, Creature seems to feel that Biden’s genuine nature overshadowed Palin’s rote replies.

I suspect there is a big swath of America that does not know Biden very well, and for those people the contrast between Biden’s knowledge and Palin’s canned answers must have been crystal clear.

Mostly, these responses seem to be falling along partisan lines, as is so often the case. But no matter how we slice and dice it, the Palin phenomenon may prove to be short lived. I just don’t see this debate going down in history as one of the game changing moments in American politics, and it would be shocking to me if it moves the current drift of the polls very much. McCain seems to be on the ropes with a shrinking window of opportunity to seize the White House. (And let’s face it, this is his last chance at the dance.) If he has to anchor his hopes on the performance and public appeal of his running mate, with her dubious qualifications and questionable background – moose killing, lipstick wearing, aw shucks appeal not withstanding – then Big Mac has some serious challenges to overcome.

We have a weekend to let the polls settle out and see if this caused any sort of shift. Bigger questions will be answered when the presidential candidates meet again this Tuesday and we see if the bailout does anything to take the economic perils of the nation off the front page. Personally, if I were Rick Davis, I’d be either scrambling to look for another Hail Mary pass or updating my resume.

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